Ask Tangognat: Product Placement in Manga

Dr. Peter A. Maresco wrote:

Can you tell me if product placement occurs in manga novels. I am interested to learn if specific products are mentioned in the stories and if so how many.

This is tricky. I’m not aware of any studies that have been done about product placement in manga, and in any case it would be almost impossible to tell if this is occurring if you aren’t reading the manga in the original japanese. I suspect that the editors of most of the english language editions replace mentions of japanese products with made-up names.

For example, I have dim memories of a reference to Sony in Fruits Basket being replaced with the word “Somy” (although I could be wrong).

I think a lot of the product references are things that the characters just happen to use (like photo sticker machines, karoke, etc). The products are used as background to make the story seem more realistic. For example, In Sgt Frog volume 1, Sgt Keroro has an imac, but I seriously doubt that Apple paid to be mentioned in the manga.
Sometimes the products mentioned are fake. In the Clamp series Tsubasa, made up products from “Piffle” are mentioned, the same way “Acme” is referenced in Looney Tunes. And the series Paradise Kiss mentions the fashion line Happy Berry, which was developed by one of the characters in a different series by creator Ai Yazawa.

I think that more often, manga characters are used to sell products instead of the other way around. For example, this fabulous Rose of Versailles ad for Daihatsu.

It’d be tough to figure this out from just reading translated manga.

Some links:

Here’s an example of product placement in manga, over at the blog Thought Balloons.

Manga starts California wine craze

An example of product placement in anime (not manga) can be found in this jalopnik post about Nissan and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

More anime (studio Gibli)

Product placement in the Densha Otaku live action movie.

Product placement in anime (animesuki discussion forum)

If you have examples of product placement in manga, please comment!